The newly developed solar cell represents big potential in the clean energy industry. Its theoretical efficiencies are above 40 percent and the team estimates its practical efficiencies at 35 percent. The current world record holder for solar efficiency registers just 24.1 percent by comparison, so the new two-layer solar cell could give the industry a run for its money. As such, Masdar Institute’s Ammar Nayfeh, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and MIT’s Eugene Fitzgerald, the Merton C. Flemings-SMA Professor of Materials Science and Engineering (the research team’s principal investigators) have founded a startup company to commercialize the technology.
The Masdar Institute-MIT solar cell is unique, because it layers the typical low-cost silicon solar cellwith a gallium arsenide phosphide-based solar cell, which is capable of higher energy conversion rates thanks to its semiconductor material. The result is, essentially, the best of both worlds, conquering significantly higher efficiency than existing technology for a much lower production cost. Its developers envision the new device as an efficiency-boosting component for industrial applications, which could translate into a major boost in the percentage of the world’s electricity generation mix.